Killing Joke/Jayce Lewis

The Forum, London - 16 March 2013

"Emotionally searing"

Jayce Lewis is one of those rising acts that appear to have already secured devoted advocates. If it wasn't for postings by friends on Facebook about him the supporting role this evening would have been nothing special to note. However, with the advanced heads up I made sure I caught his set. Whilst I liked much of what I heard, I wasn't blown away. Genre-wise, a Nine Inch Nails influence hangs heavy on their work. They were at their most distinctive, and compelling when they parked the rock posturing (and their guitars) in favour of picking up the drums sticks and each contributing to the tribal drum sound. Seeing several of them hammering out the beat on different sets of skins in time with the monochromatic strobe lighting created a glorious audible/visible synchronicity. 

[Killing Joke live photo][Killing Joke live photo]Featuring his familiar rants against Margaret Thatcher, little did Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman realise that just a couple of weeks after this gig he'd be able to dance on her grave if he so wished. I can only imagine Maggie shuffling off this mortal coil will give further impetus to what is already a textbook definition of growing old disgracefully. Those in the North American leg of the current tour will reap the added benefit of Coleman performing with the encouragement that his arch nemesis has been vanquished. 

To say Coleman has a strong personality is a massive understatement. Even some fans who have been with them since the first album wouldn't say they actually 'like' Coleman, but all won't deny his presence and power as a band leader and live performer. Killing Joke could not be Killing Joke without Jaz Coleman. But then Killing Joke wouldn't be quite the same Killing Joke without the rest of the original line-up who seem as potent today as ever they were. They may not be the face of the band and they wouldn't dream of attempting to argue with Coleman over being the soul either. But the live line-up is as good an incarnation of any mature band you could even un-reasonably want. They are that good on stage. 

I've never been a Killing Joke aficionado. They're just one of those acts I've never spent the time getting to know intimately. I've loved a lot of their stuff down the years, particularly that keystone first LP. It's anarchic black and white cover depicting rampaging hordes in Northern Ireland gave a clear indication of what to expect from its content back in 1980. The remarkable thing is just how relevant and accurate it remains to our world today, and to their live performances. They retain a primal energy and delivery so fierce that listening to them on stage can still unsettle, and seeing it burns indelible images on your retina. Three songs from that debut made it onto tonight's setlist with Wardance and the mighty Requiem as revolutionary and energising as ever they were. 

An evening spent for the best part of two hours drawing on the manifesto that comprises their back catalogue remains one of the most electric live experiences imaginable. I envy those proper Killing Joke fans – what an emotionally searing world they must inhabit. 9/10 

Setlist: Intro (Blade Runner Theme - Vangelis), Requiem, Turn to Red, Wardance, European Super State, Love Like Blood, The Beautiful Dead, This World Hell, Empire Song, Chop-Chop, Sun Goes Down, Eighties, Money Is Not Our God, Whiteout, Asteroid, The Wait, Corporate Elect, Pandemonium - Encore: Follow The Leaders, Tension, Change, Pssyche

Rob Dyer